Electric cars or hybrids are growing in popularity. In a recent study by AAA, 20% of those surveyed said their next car will be an electric vehicle. Whether your electric vehicle (EV) purchase is next month or next year, it’s a good idea to consider the energy needs required to charge those new wheels at home.
While most electric cars can be plugged into a standard 120-volt outlet, you may need to upgrade your home’s electrical system to accommodate the added electrical load. This is especially a concern if your home is more than 20 years old. Do you have to upgrade your system? It depends.
Safe and Sustainable
If you’re charging your vehicle at home and your lights start dimming or a circuit breaker trips multiple times, it’s an indication that you need to upgrade your system. Charging an EV can be equal to double or triple the energy used during your home’s peak electrical hours. It’s not safe to continually overload your electrical system and it isn’t economic or efficient. Part of the reason most people purchase an EV is related to sustainability and the environment. Using a system without sufficient charging power will take longer and waste more electricity.
There are a few options to consider when you upgrade your system. Review your needs with a licensed electrician who can recommend the best choice for you.
1. AC Level 1 (120V/15A): This is the standard 120-volt outlet you have in your home. An outlet for a three-pronged plug delivers a ‘Level 1’ charge, but you’ll need a dedicated branch circuit to keep your appliances and electronics working smoothly. Using a standard outlet, count on 8 to 12 hours of charge time which results in 2 to 5 miles of driving range per hour of charging time.
2. AC Level 2 (240V/30-70A): The larger 240-volt plug and receptacle means you’ll have to install special home charging equipment and a dedicated circuit. The benefit is your charging time drops to 3 to 6 hours and results in 10-60 miles of driving range per hour of charging time. Plus, your local utility may offer incentives or rebates if you install this equipment. You’ll be able to customize the installation with features like timers and smartphone connectivity.
3. DC Fast Charging: These super-fast charging stations are typical of public stations located outside businesses and apartments. Even though they can charge an EV in 20-40 minutes, the amount of electricity they draw makes them impractical for home installation. However, if you own a business, consider adding a charging station. It’s a great customer service and you can usually take advantage of rebates and discounts.
The experts at JM Mullen Electrical Services will come to your home or business to assess your current electrical capacity and recommend an option that will keep your car and your home running at full power.